On April 11, 1960, astronomers began the first scientific experiment that would search for extraterrestrial life.
Known as Project Ozma, this experiment looked for interstellar radio transmissions coming from other star systems. This was the first time that radio astronomy was used to look for aliens. The effort was led by an astronomer named Frank Drake at Cornell University. He used an 85-foot telescope at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia to check out two nearby stars called Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani. He first pointed the telescope at Tau Ceti, but he didn’t detect any signals.
When he pointed the telescope at Epsilon Eridani, he did see a signal, but it turned out to be a false alarm. He later found out that the signal was created by military radar equipment and was definitely not aliens.
On March 4th, 1979, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft took the first photos of rings around Jupiter. This was the first time anyone had seen Jupiter’s rings.
Because Jupiter’s rings are so thin and faint, it’s extremely difficult to see them from Earth with ground-based telescopes. Even for a spacecraft out near Jupiter, the rings are essentially invisible unless the cameras look at them edge-on or from an angle where sunlight shines directly through them.
Since Voyager 1 first saw the rings, other space missions like Juno and Galileo have continued to study them. Scientists believe that the rings formed by comets colliding with Jupiter’s moons and kicking dust into the planet’s orbit.
Thinking of asking for or giving a telescope for Christmas? Cork Astronomy Club has a word of advice to offer: don’t! Or at least, not until you have attended our “What telescope” workshop on Saturday November 17th.
What type of telescope? Dobsonian, Newtonian, go-to? Or would binoculars be better for you? How much to spend? Is there such a thing as a beginner’s scope? Where do I buy it? … So many questions … and one place to get the answers … Tony Jackson’s “What telescope” workshop on November 17th, at Tory Top Library, 2:30 pm. Our Club has no connection whatever to any business and you will receive impartial advice from an expert amateur astronomer. Not a Club member? You can still come, and it’s free, but need to book, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.